Meet Your Guides: Samson Johnson

Written by Thomson Safaris

After every safari, we hear from guests that their guide was amazing, and that he “must be the best.” At this point, we’ve heard this about every single guide that leads our trips!

We know that highly-skilled, friendly, attentive guides can make the difference between a good safari and an unforgettable one; that’s why we’re so honored to be able to work with so many amazing individuals, such as: 

Samson Johnson

We heard you have a nickname you go by with the guests?

Yes, I tell them to call me “Kakakuona,” which means “pangolin” in Swahili, and also “watchful brother.” Many people here view pangolins as a lucky animal, so maybe it means you’ll be lucky if you have me as your guide! [laughs]


What’s your favorite part about being a guide?

I’ve been working with Thomson travelers for 21 years, but my favorite part is still meeting people. I love having the opportunity to get to know all different kinds of people from all over the world without ever leaving home!

Safari guide Samson with Thomson guestPhoto: Thomson Safaris guest, Len Kurzweil 

What’s your favorite park to visit on safari?

Serengeti National Park, hands down.  I love watching the migrating wildebeest. There are so MANY of them! [laughs]


Do you have a trick that helps you spot wildlife?

Sometimes I look for tails hanging out of trees – that’s almost the only way I know to find leopards!


What is your favorite animal to spot on safari?

Giraffes. But I’d like to see more caracals. I’ve only seen one four times—they’re loners, and they have big ranges, so it’s pretty rare to spot one—but they’re absolutely beautiful.

caracalCaracal in nice light” by Flickr User, Tambako The Jaguar licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

What are some of the stranger things you’ve seen out in the bush?

Once I saw a hyena waiting under a tree, and there was a leopard at the top, cornered. Hyenas can be pretty vicious, but the leopard came down and they didn’t fight. They didn’t even interact. It seemed very weird to me!

Another time, I was in Tarangire with Abu when a herd of elephants crossed in front of the car. One of the guests spotted the absolute tiniest elephant I’ve ever seen…and that’s when its mom spotted us. We heard very loud trumpeting, and then the elephant decided to charge the car. It hit the car so hard the back wheels came off the ground! But the Land Rovers are very sturdy, so I just put the car in neutral and waited for the elephant to wear itself out. It did, and we were all safe.

I guess those guests wouldn’t have agreed that I’m the luckiest guide to get! [laughs]

Samson with Thomson Safaris guestsPhoto: Thomson Safaris guest, Len Kurzweil